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Monday, November 03, 2014

The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny

 APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
             --T.S. Eliot, The Wasteland

The Cruelest Month, the third in the Inspector Gamache series, shows a bit more of the serious turn that continues to take place in the rest of the novels.  Of course, there is a murder with plenty of suspects and plenty of possible motives, but there is also a psychic and a seance, jealousy, and a betrayal within the ranks of Gamache's own team.

Ruth Zardo, the curmudgeonly old poet and my favorite character, continues to grow.  Sly, witty, bitchy, and compassionate in turns, Ruth is a highlight in every book even though she makes only brief appearances each time.  The familiar village characters are all here, but new ones are introduced.  

While the willingness of everyone to feel the inherent evil of the Hadley house and then proceed to conduct a seance there seems far-fetched, I always love the characters themselves--full of personal flaws and secrets.  The comic relief provided by several characters and their dialogue continues to amuse me, even as the machinations within the Sûreté du Québec to cover past and present crimes continue to add to the darker element and growing apprehension.

It is best to read the series in order (I wish I had done so) and to keep in mind that they get better with each new addition.  Better and darker, but still with plenty of warmth and compassion from Gamache and witty repartee among the Three Pines familiar characters.

Read in Oct.; blog post scheduled for ?

Purchased.  Minotaur Books

Mystery/Police Procedural.  2010.  Print length:  318 pages.  


  1. You are so right about needing to read these in order, both in respect of the growing conflict within the team but also because the quality of the writing just improves so much from book five onwards. And as for Ruth, I want a whole book that focuses on Ruth and her background.

  2. :) Ruth deserves more time, doesn't she?

  3. It's good to know this series is better read in order. The only book I've read in the series is a later one, but I do have the first book waiting for me on my shelves.

  4. I wish I'd read them in order, but I started with the 4th in the series. Because each book has a "contained" mystery as well, as the one strand that runs through them all about the Surete, each one does function as a stand-alone.

  5. I've not read any of the books, and now that I know this is best to be read in order, I'd place my order for the first book instead of reading them randomly.

  6. Jenclair, thanks for the review. I'm going to have to check out this author!

  7. I really enjoy her books, Sherri. Hope you will as well!

  8. Melody, it is usually better to read a series in order. It is fun to get to know the characters gradually. :)